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Papillote Curls

The use of curling paper to style hair

Ever tried curling your hair with paper?

Our Georgian era heroines had quite a few methods for curling their hair, especially for those lovely face-framing ringlets. One of the methods was curl-paper, which was often left over night but could also be used to protect the hair from burning when using a curling tong.

Papillote is a triangular piece of paper our heroines could use to wrap their hair after washing and winding it into a curl. The paper would hold the curl to allow the style to set overnight.

Papillote used as curl-paper is from the 17th century, but its use in other methods, including used in cooking, is Georgian in origin.

There were any number of styles one could create with the papillote. For example, in the early to mid 18th century, a fuller, more voluminous style was desired, so the ladies would wind damp or pomaded strands around their fingers, wrap the curled strands with the paper to tie off and hold the curl, then after the curl had set either overnight or with the help of the papillote curling iron, the paper would be untied, and then the curls brushed out for a bushy, almost frizzy style. Add powder, and voila!

During the early 19th century and through the Regency, tight ringlets were popular, and so smaller strands would be wound tighter, and the curls would be left to hang rather than being brushed out as with earlier in the Georgian era. Want waves instead of curls? Take larger strands, wind loosely, then finger comb the released curl to soften it. There is no end to the styling!

Those with naturally curly hair would not need much aid with creating ringlets, waves, or otherwise. Wearing the curling paper overnight would help reduce frizz, but there would be no need for pomade. Straighter hair would do well to use pomade, as well as the curling iron to better help shape and hold the curls.

A not-to-miss post from Risky Regencies can be found here, which includes several embedded videos to learn more about this curling style, as well as how to mimic it yourself at home for some authentic Georgian hairstyling:

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